The biggest scar I have on my body is on my left knee, a dark slightly raised line that was courtesy of a sunken corner of a cracked concrete tile in the driveway of our old house and a poorly timed decision to jump my scooter at top speed. Long story short, the wheel got stuck in the crack, I went flying, and then proceeded to be a bad child who picked at scabs - hence, the scar stayed. Puberty turned me into a cautious, quiet bookworm whose only Bs came from PDHPE (which my Asian parents waved aside with an air of defeated resignation) with a not-so-secret adrenaline junkie streak reserved for roller coasters, bungee jumping, skydiving and heights in general. Before Europe, I literally could not remember the last time I had fallen publicly and properly injured myself (a few near-misses because of my weak ankles doesn't count). A good guess would have had me on at least an eight year streak of no-spills.
Enter Budapest's Citadella, mounted high on the hill with a broad. Once I finished ogling at the 'Statue of Liberty', I noticed a conveniently high ledge to stand on where you can see the panoramic view of the city stretching beyond the Danube. I got on, handed my camera to my brother and asked him to take a photo. Do it for the Insta, and all.
Except don't because, perhaps a little punch-drunk on the view, I turned to step off the ledge after the photo, misjudged the height of the step, and suddenly I was on the ground in front of an international audience of tourists, laughing through the sting on my knee (for that matter, when was it last socially acceptable to burst into tears because of an injury in public? Gritted teeth and hisses took over at some point and just never let up). My first absurd thought was to thank my lucky stars I wasn't holding my camera (this was going to be a recurring theme).
What you shouldn't do, for that matter, is to then proceed to convince yourself the injury is alright, wash it with a bit of water and hope it will heal by itself because it's hot and you're in a strange country making amateur tourist (and medical) mistakes.
It will lead to your knee getting awkwardly infected and lead you to a Budapest police station where you will attempt to ask for directions to a doctor from a female policewoman who walked straight out of a European gangster movie (short red hair and cigarette included), before finding a Good Samaritan paramedic at a local ambulance station further down the way who will patch you up and prescribe you some antiseptic.
Maybe do that, because they will restore your faith in humanity and beauty and small, precious things in the world. Budapest was the first city I ever visited in Europe: it's romantic, it's eclectic, it's full of layers and it has just a touch of seediness and wear to its streets that gives it an edge.
All this to say - I think my career as a leg model is over, but the small red line of a scar I have on my right knee* from literally falling for Budapest is fitting because that's exactly what I did.
*my impulse control is marginally better than it was when I was eight but still not perfect